A Touch of Failure

Of all the fun things I’ve done this summer, some of them have not worked as well as I’d hoped. For instance, I had this really great idea to get more garlic in my diet, since garlic is really good for you. It has all kinds of vitamins and minerals, it repels insects, and it has special benefits to your stomach. (I don’t remember all the details, since my plan to ingest it didn’t work.) I really don’t like the taste of raw garlic, and one bite can leave that flavor in your mouth for hours, even days. So, my plan was to chop up raw garlic, then put it in mini ice cube trays with a little water and freeze my own wholesome garlic pills.

I tried to swallow one with a glass of water, and it was purely disgusting. Imagine a cold clump of garlic breaking apart in your mouth, oozing out flavor as you hurriedly choke down the cold, lumpy bits, and feel the coldness travel all the way to your stomach. It didn’t eliminate garlic breath, either.

Other fails include these:

  • Trying to clean some rusty chains with vinegar. I let them soak for too long, and now they’re rustier than they were before, and my hands got covered with hard-to-remove rust stains.
  • Making a nest material supply for the birds. I thought I did a great job making it, so I guess it wasn’t really a fail. But the birds didn’t use it.
  • The ant farm. Those sneaky ants all escaped after all my hard work. Still lots of fun though, and I apparently extirpated the anthill that my mom has been trying to get out of our garden for years.
  • My poor fairy garden. It dried up and died. But the moss is doing well, and I have more room on my desk without it. I’ll have to try again on that one, though, with some hardier plants.

Failure is a part of success, and where hobbies are concerned, there aren’t any real fails unless you stop having fun. So, even though my garlic pills were a terrible idea, it was actually a lot of fun to see my sister’s reactions to my face as I ate one.

One type of failure is getting rejected. I’ve had a great time watching 100 Days of Rejection, where an entrepreneur decided to conquer his fear of being rejected by intentionally making one crazy request a day. He is a really friendly and polite guy, and a lot of his crazy requests weren’t even rejected! Here is one of my favorite videos:

It’s good to remember that people often really do want to help you. However, I also like that he gets better at being persistent as the 100 days progress. I’ve been motivated to be more persistent and optimistic from watching videos like this one:

So get out there and have some exciting fails!

Mandalas and Meditation

This is a painted stone mandala. It’s a fun, satisfying craft that isn’t too hard once you figure out how to make the dots round. All it takes is acrylic paint, a rock, and pointy things like toothpicks and knitting needles to make the dots.

A mandala is a design that represents the universe. It can also represent the vibrations or sounds that make up everything in Hinduism and Buddhism. It is a nice idea, and I enjoy looking at them. However, I wanted some design ideas, so I found a book of Buddhist mandala art at the library. It was rather creepy, with fiery devil guys and weird blue ladies. I think I’ll stick to mandalas made of geometric shapes.

There are a lot of aspects of Eastern philosophy and medicine that are very intriguing and useful. Meditation is one of them. There are many different types of meditation, but they all aim to train your mind. It’s easy to see a picture of someone sitting in lotus, motionless, with their eyes closed, and think meditation is pretty weird. Really, it’s mind training. Just like you learn to read, walk, and talk, you had to learn to think. Just as people can develop poor posture while walking, it is also possible to develop poor posture in your thinking.

I understand that if your “thinking posture” is doing fine, meditation may seem like a waste of time to you. But if your posture is a little out of alignment, meditation can perceptibly “straighten out” your thinking. As with physical posture, I think many people don’t notice when their mental posture is a little slouchy, or even when it is totally out of alignment.

I have been meditating for about ten minutes in the morning and in the evening, and it has been very helpful to me. A little time goes a long way while meditating. All you need is a quiet place where you will not be disturbed, and a guided meditation soundtrack with earbuds is helpful (there are plenty on YouTube).

My favorite types of meditation are mindfulness meditation and loving kindness meditation. Mindfulness meditation involves becoming very aware of your own body and of your thoughts, while abstaining from any sort of judgement. Yoga incorporates some aspects of this technique. Although meditation, properly done, does not require any straining or effort, it is really difficult to continually be aware of your thoughts without judging them or getting caught away by them. This type is very good for overthinking, anxiety, and depression, because it helps you separate yourself from your thoughts, which in these disorders are too frequent and distressing.

Loving kindness meditation feels really nice and I’ve seen it translate into my daily life. There are so many problems in this world, so many injustices, which we really can’t control. But we can control our attitudes. In this meditation, you begin by choosing someone close to you that is easy to love, and imagine sending love toward them. After a while, you choose someone else, who you do not know as well, to send love toward. You progress outward, from close friends and family to your community, to your country, and to the world. When you are ready, you can direct the increased love in your heart to someone who has hurt you. Finally, you can direct the love to yourself. Now, this exercise may sound cheesy, but it is based in truth. Things that annoy and hurt are more noticeable than things that are good. Taking the time to consciously remind ourselves of the good in ourselves and others helps us see the world in a more balanced, true way. It also helps us solve what problems we can, by being more understanding, kind, and influenced by truth.

Like everything I post about, meditation is not for everyone. But ten minutes a day is not much of a risk to take to find out if it works for you.


My Crepuscular Activity

I have now been using the crepuscular hours for silks practice. I just recently tried my first drop, which was scary and exciting, like jumping off the diving board. A drop is when, after preparing the proper wraps, you let go and the silks catch you. My first was successful, I am happy to report.

By now you are probably wondering what I mean by “crepuscular.” It is my new favorite word. It means “pertaining to twilight.” It’s so hot in the day that practicing outside is rather uncomfortable. Evening is just right. I even saw some crepuscular creatures one night: bats.

My second favorite new word is “virga,” which apparently refers to columns of rain that evaporate before hitting the ground. It is quite a pretty meteorological phenomenon. Also, though Wikipedia says the plural of this definition of “virga” can be either “virga” or “virgas,” the Corpus of Contemporary American Usage (or COCA) and a Google search side with the s-less version. If you like words, check out the COCA. It’s free, and if you decide to sign up with your email it won’t spam you.

By the way, the definition of “corpus” in linguistics is a body or collection of real-world text samples. The COCA has samples from fiction, news, spoken language, and academic writing. It’s search functions make it easy to see how people are using a particular word.

So cute

Ok, if these aren’t the cutest inanimate objects you’ve ever seen. I got them at the craft store, in the itty-bitty section. There is a lot of cute stuff available at Michaels. I’m still not sure how to write on them, but I intend to.

My sister and I decorated the bonsai a couple of months ago. The birdhouse, fence, and bench are all made of popsicle sticks and hot glue.

Sometimes life is about the cute little things that make you smile. Those things are just as real as the more serious ones.

Yogurt and veggies and fruit (oh my)

Let’s face it. Being healthy is for the oldy-moldies. At least, that’s what I thought until I started getting a little older myself (from teenager to young adult), and started needing those health benefits in my life. The truth is, being healthy doesn’t have to alienate you from friends, make you suffer, or to taste like lima beans (if you don’t like them). Being healthy can be fun.

I heard yogurt is really good for the digestive system, and that meant I was in luck because I like yogurt. Now, you’re probably thinking, “When is she going to mention price again?” So glad you asked. Milk is generally less expensive than yogurt at the supermarket, plus it has less additives and sugar. So why not DIY?

I used a recipe I found online to make my own batch of yogurt for breakfast. It has only three ingredients: milk, powdered milk, and yogurt with live cultures. I was a little clumsy the first time with sterilizing the canning jars, but it turned out yummy. I was very proud as I ate my own yogurt for breakfast, with a little honey drizzled in. I tried again today and the preparations went much smoother (I’m also hoping the yogurt will be smoother this time too.)

I’ve been trying harder to figure out how I can solve some of the health problems that I’ve been having, and it turns out that eating more fruits and vegetables solves like a billion problems. And, eating them is not really that bad. It sounds bad. Ohh, it sounds terrible. You’d think those little green things were torture, the way some people avoid them. But I’ve found that as I eat more fresh foods, I am enjoying all of the food that I eat more and feeling fewer cravings for sugar. The trick for me in avoiding Vegetable Dread has been finding out what I like.

I don’t like frozen peas, carrots, or broccoli. They give me the shivers. But, I have found that fresh, young peas are a wonderful, sweet treat. Woody, slimy, and bitter baby carrots have been the bane of my lunchbox. But once in a while baby carrots can be so crunchy and sweet that I devour them. Big hunks of chewy broccoli stem are hard for me to palate, but small broccoli sprigs can add the perfect texture to a stir-fry. What I’ve found is that if you take the time to make healthy food desirable, it will be worth eating. Who has the willpower or desire to eat gross food today just to make sure things will go well thirty years down the line?

Just as I’ve found that I can eat healthy, I’ve found that I can do a lot of things I’ve assumed that I can’t. I used to think I didn’t like cooking. The yogurt taught me that you have to practice a recipe for it to go well. The next time I make yogurt, it will go even better. I used to think I was no good at anything medical, but I’ve found that if I give myself the space to lie down when blood or cadavers start to make me feel faint, I am actually quite interested in the human body and good at anatomy. I used to think I could never whistle or do a pull-up, but I can. Sometimes we feel we can’t do things. I think that usually the truth is we can do it if we believe we can, and if we allow ourselves to do it in our own way.

The yogurt is done. Still a little lumpy, but tastes even better than the last batch!


Families are the Funnest

This is the product of our family night. My brother suggested we make a mural, so we did, together. We had a good time, got chalky, and ate popsicles. Plus, the neighbors even seemed to like it.

I’ve  been thinking a lot about friendship and family relationships lately. I asked my little sister what she thought about friendship, and she told me that she thinks a good friend will be interested in the things you are interested in. Even if they don’t do those things, they can respect them and why you enjoy them. This summer, I’ve been trying to spend time with the people who understand and respect me and my quirky ideas, but I also hope to be a little more sensitive to the things that other people around me enjoy, like television shows and basketball. Even if they seem incredibly boring to me, I believe that anything worth doing is worth respecting. A book that brought this to life for me was Atlas Shrugged, which is all about big business owners. I’d never considered the pleasure of pouring steel or running a railroad before. But since reading that book, I pass by steaming industrial plants and feel respect rather than disgust.

I hope you and your friends or family go out and do something you love, even if others might call it “nerdy” or “boring,” or be so flabbergasted that they don’t know what to think.

Let the summer fun begin!

After a long schoolyear, it’s time for the things I do best: crafting, climbing, singing, reading, writing, and creating! Click the posts to the left to follow my story and get some fun ideas of your own.